Penn State-bound wrestler Bo Nickal, ranked top 10 nationally for the class of 2014, enters his senior season at Allen (Texas) as a two-time state champion with a career record of 140-7.
This past summer, Nickal became the second wrestler in Texas history to add “USA Wrestling Junior Freestyle National Champion” to his growing list of athletic accomplishments. He hopes to add Olympic medalist in the future – following in the footsteps of his role model and soon-to-be coach Cael Sanderson, a four-time NCAA national champion.
Nickal briefed us on what else is on his mind – from his diet to his competitive approach on the mat.
You’re off to Penn State next year. What are you most looking forward to about transitioning from high school?
Nickal: It will be exciting to be on my own and have to figure things out for myself. My parents hold me accountable with my schoolwork and wrestling, and what my mom puts on the table is what I’m eating. It’s going to be different when I have to rely on myself for all of that.
Speaking of figuring out your own meals, you recently tweeted that you’re “#easilyattracted to Chick-fil-A”. What on the menu makes your mouth water?
Nickal: I always get the grilled chicken club with sauce and the waffle fries. I try to stay away from the fries, but the temptation is too much sometimes.
When you’re in season, is Chick-fil-A strictly off limits?
Nickal: I tighten up my diet a little bit. I can eat grilled chicken, but I try to stay away from fried foods, soda and other sugary and fatty things.
What else about your eating habits do you try to tighten up?
Nickal: I don’t go out to eat as much. If I do eat out, it’s usually at a sub shop. Most of the time for dinner I’ll eat grilled steak, chicken and fish. I try to eat more vegetables -asparagus, carrots and peas.
It makes a huge difference. People overlook how important your diet is. What you’re putting into your body is what you’re fueling it with. If you’re putting junk in your body, you’re going to perform like junk. When you put good things in, you’re going to feel so much better.
What are some of your power foods?
Nickal: Usually my big meal is in the morning – you have to fuel early because that’s what your body is going to run on. I’ll make four to five eggs, and I eat a lot of oatmeal and peanut butter on toast. For dinner, I love steak and pasta.
In the summer you traveled to Serbia to compete in the FILA Cadet World Championships. How does international competition compare to your rivals in the United States?
Nickal: It was pretty awesome being exposed to that level of competition. It’s on another level. Those guys don’t have to worry about schoolwork. All they do is wrestle – that’s their life. And all they’re doing is freestyle from the time they start wrestling. We (Americans) really have to focus a lot of attention to freestyle during the offseason because we only get to do it for half of the year.
Who do you consider your greatest rival in the United States?
Nickal: Some people say Mark Hall (of Apple Valley, Minn.) and I have a rivalry, but I don’t really consider anyone a rival. I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on making myself better. I go out there and compete with whoever steps up against me.
You’ve defeated Hall three times. Is it considered a rivalry if you always win?
Nickal: That’s what I’m saying. I feel like for it to be a rivalry, you have to go back and forth. He’s a really tough opponent.
In February, the International Olympic Committee executive board announced that wrestling would be dropped from the Olympics. What was your reaction?
Nickal: I was shocked. I never expected that to happen. It’s been apart of the Olympics for so long. I was pretty scared because going to the Olympics is what I really want to do in my future. At the time, I felt like it could have been taken away.
Fortunately the sport will be reinstated in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Nickal: If I stay on the path that I’m on right now, that’s my big goal. I’m excited to get training for that.